Some plumbing tasks are a bit much for the do-it-yourselfer and even those ready and able may not have the time for an emergency fix that comes up at the wrong time. For anyone responsible for a home it is wise to have a plumbing resource available for emergencies.
Like all things one plumber may not fit all needs. Many plumbers specialize in either repair or new building, so it’s important to hire a plumber who focuses in the type of work that you need done. If you are looking to hire a plumber for new construction, it’s wise to get multiple bids on the project. If however, you have an emergency situation, you need to take quicker action. Let’s focus on the emergency situation first:
The best thing in an emergency situation is to already have a name and phone number of a couple of plumbers in place. Asking friends, family and co-workers for “good experience” recomendations is a good way to start. Failing this, call your local Plumbing supply house or hardware store and asking for names. Also try the (NARI) National Association of the Remodeling Industry. An NARI membership assures a legitimate business with licenses and insurance.
Important Tip: Prior to the plumbers arrival clear the area ahead of time. You don’t want someone who’s charging $100 an hour to stand around while you remove all the stuff stored in the cabinets under the sink.
Once they’ve arrived and analyzed the situation, you want the plumber to write down what work needs to be done and what the price will be. If they see you are frazzled and in a big hurry they may take advantage of that with an inflated bill doubting you will call their bluff.
Expect clean (and in uniform), well trained and polite people to show up to your home and respect you and your property. If that is not what you get, then find another one fast.
For a big project, such as installing a new water heater, or a major remodeling job, you want to pay for most or all of the work after the job is done. “That gives you some reassurance that they will do a good job and complete the repair”
When hiring or contracting for new construction work there is usually more time and other specific areas to be considered. These areas include: discussing the scope of the job, comparing bids, getting a written contract, and making sure that the plumber is licensed.
Does the plumber have a license? Check with your local Consumer Affairs Department to see if a license is required in your community. Most communities have some licensing requirements to ensure plumbing codes are followed.
How long has the plumber been in business? The longer the better – usually. It takes typically three to fives years to establish a financially sound business.
Have you called the Better Business Bureau? They can alert you to any outstanding complaints.
Can the plumber show proof of worker’s compensation and general liability insurance? If not, you will be liable for any construction-related accidents on your premises.
Ask for a list of local references and then call them. Would they hire the same plumber again?
Will the plumber provide a clearly written estimate and contract? Get everything in writing; the more professional-looking, the estimate and contract, the more likely you are dealing with a true professional.
What are the plumber’s problem-solving policies? Are guarantees offered on the work and the products used?
Does the plumber belong to any professional organizations? Although it is no guarantee of the quality of a contractor’s work, it may tell you something about the plumber’s commitment to the industry and profession.
It’s unlikely that anyone has the time or patients to follow every item in this checklist but by doing some networking and investigation it should be easy to find a good, reliable plumber for when an emergency arises.